Neilson’s rink vying for provincial berth

Kelly Neilson of Stratton will be bidding for a provincial berth when the junior ladies’ district playdowns go Thursday through Saturday in Balmertown—one week after fellow club member Trevor Bonot finished sixth at the junior men’s showdown last weekend in Thunder Bay.
Neilson’s rink, featuring third Amber Sheloff, second Amy Neilson, and lead Giselle Bonot, is making its second trip to the district playdowns relatively intact from last year (Bonot is the new lead).
While they went 0-11 last year, including a 9-4 loss to eventual champion Krista Scharf in the final draw, Neilson is confident with the improvement her rink has shown.
“I think three wins would be really good for our team,” Neilson said on the 10-team, round-robin format this year. “We have improved from last year. Our goal is to surprise some teams this weekend.”
“We’re going out there for fun and experience,” she added.
There will be some familiar faces in Balmertown this weekend. In addition to the Scharf rink, Angela Lee will compete with a Port Arthur club.
Lee, who had skipped a Stratton rink to the junior ladies’ national playdowns in 1999, currently is attending Confederation College in Thunder Bay.
If three wins is a magic number for Neilson, then consider the Trevor Bonot rink’s showing at the junior men’s district playdowns a success. They went 3-4 to finish in sixth place out of eight teams.
Given the foursome went 0-6 at last year’s playdowns, Bonot had reason to beam Monday.
“We curled really well all weekend. I’m so proud,” he said after skipping a team in his second district playdowns. “We have a lot of confidence knowing we can play with these guys.”
Bonot’s rink, including third Adam Bolen, second Brendan Loney, and lead Matt Neilson, was one of the youngest ones in the field (aged 15 and 16) yet gave some of the Thunder Bay teams—whose average age was 20—a serious run in many draws.
Two of those veteran rinks, skipped by defending provincial champ Brian Adams (Port Arthur) and Dustin Kroeker (Fort William), went on to capture berths at the provincial playdowns Dec. 13-16 in North Bay.
Bonot said the crucial moment came in the fifth draw last Friday night when they lost 7-6 in 11 ends to Kroeker to drop their record to 2-3.
“That was the game that was really close,” he recalled. “[They] were down one coming home without hammer in the 10th end. We had the chance to put them in a rough situation.”
Bonot went on to lose 10-1 to Jeff MacDonald (Port Arthur) before winning their final game 9-7 over Matthew Dupuis (Red Rock).
They had opened action last Thursday with a 8-2 loss to Adams (Port Arthur) and 10-9 to Mike Woznesensky (Fort William).
They beat Greg Doran (Port Arthur) 11-5 on Friday morning, then downed Michael Barnett (Terrace Bay) 10-6 that afternoon to even their record at 2-2.
“They just outcurled us,” Bonot said of their loss to Adams, who went on to win the bronze medal at last year’s nationals. “They’re the one no one can touch. They just have the experience on their side.”
But he was pleased one of their wins was against Doran, another up-and-coming rink they’ll be facing at the Canada Games trials in
“That was a game we really wanted to win. If we outcurled them well in that game, that would give us confidence heading into February,” he reasoned.
In related news, Zone 7 chair Rob Sinclair said the Jim Jackson rink of Nevin Bonot, Glen Jackson, and Norm Hyatt, who had lost to Bryan Bonot of Stratton during the senior men’s zone playdowns here Nov. 11, also have earned a spot at the districts later this week in Nipigon.